At times, discipleship feels a bit like this:
Big trucks and death beds tend to get our attention. We wake up and listen to the Truth when tragedies and power struggles shake us alert. God gives us grace and growth and then we learn. We really aren’t meant to be independent after all; we’re trying to be God when we cling to control and try to go through life on our own.
Today is World Food Day, a particular day when discipleship offers opportunities: we are called to advocate for those who are hungry, to be stewards of our blessings, and to fast and pray for the type of world that works according to God’s designs. (I suggest participating in some of the actions of Catholic Relief Services, Oxfam or Bread for the World.)
At times, we might rather just ignore disturbing facts — like every day about 30,000 children die throughout the world from preventable causes. Meanwhile, the United States throws away enough food to fill an entire stadium.
We’d rather not think about such things. That way we can keep enjoying our gourmet food guilt-free. Systemic change is tough stuff when the suffering feels too far away from us, or the facts are totally depressing.
But we’re disciples of Jesus, the greatest advocate for those who are hungry and poor. We try to follow Jesus’ ways, even if it means letting go of our comfort and entering into what’s ugly and disturbing.
When we pray “thy will be done” are we asking for God’s will to be done only in the ways we like and are comfortable with? Or, do we expect God’s will to be as we imagine it?
Being human means being in relationship. Relational living insists on our need to rely on others. In order to really trust one another and follow Jesus we must let go and remain open to mystery. This isn’t easy when the mystery is really, really uncomfortable or unlike what we’re used to. Praying for openness can help, I’ve learned.
I keep wondering, though, if we make it harder or easier on ourselves when we pray to be open to changes. Is it inevitable that we’ll carry our ugly stubbornness and assumptions around and then weigh down our walking with Jesus? Is there a certain amount of resistance and struggle that is appropriate, necessary and natural? Do these dynamics make us human, and ultimately cause us to grow?
Maybe risk-taking and leaps of faith are God’s ways of getting us in shape for the real labor of following. Because, the act of saying yes to trusting God can open us to change.
God is clever. Leaning into God’s trustworthiness gets us places. Somehow we end up submitting and give up our ideas and agendas when we must.
This saying is trustworthy:
If we have died with him we shall also live with him;
if we persevere we shall also reign with him.
But if we deny him he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny himself.